Q. I recently have heard that there are different kinds of rosary prayers, apart from the ordinary rosary. Is this true?
A. The rosary is an ancient prayer, derived from even more ancient monastic practices. Since the first century, Christian mystics have meditated on the life of Christ with repeated prayers, using beaded or knotted ropes or cords. And for centuries, those prayers have included the invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because the rosary has an ancient history, it has many forms, all of which are excellent ways in which to pray.
The five-decade rosary, which we pray especially in May, the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is familiar to most Catholics. It focuses on meditations of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries. The five-decade rosary has been prayed for centuries, and is sometimes referred to as the “Dominican Rosary,” because St. Dominic, in the 12th century, encouraged its use, and encouraged devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Also familiar is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is a meditation on the mercy of Jesus, prayed with ordinary rosary beads. This chaplet was introduced to the Church through the writings of the mystic St. Faustina, in 1930s Poland. A similar chaplet is the St. Joseph Chaplet, asking for prayers and protection from St. Joseph.
Less familiar to Catholics are seven-decade rosaries: the Franciscan Crown and the Servite Chaplet. The Franciscan Crown is a meditation on the seven joys of the Blessed Mother: the Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity of Jesus, Epiphany, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the Assumption and Coronation of Mary. The Hail Mary is prayed seven times in each of the seven decades. The Servite Chaplet is similar: a seven-decade rosary focused on the seven sorrows of Mary: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of Jesus in the temple, Mary meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary, the Crucifixion, Jesus being taken down from the cross, and the laying of Jesus’s body in the tomb.
During the month of May, praying the various forms of the rosary is a spiritually beneficial way to ask for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, and to experience the mysteries of the Lord she experienced.
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